When this question was asked of members of a Facebook group recently, a few interesting answers were received. What does sending and receiving a card actually mean to you as opposed to getting a happy birthday or other message via Facebook or a text?
When I asked myself the question the first phrase that sprung into my mind was that a card is like a little bit of love popping through the letterbox! It is true that it is nice to have lots of messages via a phone or computer on your birthday but those messages have very little in common with the now increasingly few paper cards that drop through the letterbox.
I think the difference is a simple one - a card shows that someone really cares. It shows that the sender has held you in their thoughts for more than the few seconds that it takes to send a text, they have remembered that it is your birthday (or that you have moved house, had a baby or whatever the occasion is), then they have taken the trouble to go to a shop and browse through the cards looking for the exact sentiment that they want to convey to the recipient. They have spent a couple of pounds on the card, taken it home and considered the message that they want to write and have then stamped it and taken it to a letterbox where the responsibility of it is handed over to the post man who will make sure that it arrives through your letterbox as a little delivery of love. A card makes the recipient feel special and cared for - it's as simple as that. When you receive a card you know that you have been thought about and it gives you a warm glow and you, in return tend to think of the sender - how nice it was of them, what a kind person they are to remember you, and, isn't it time you got together? Maybe you even pick up the phone to say thank you and actually have a conversation?
And when the day is over, the card is still sitting on the mantel piece as a lovely piece of art, or a humorous quip to brighten the day and to remind you that you were thought of and are cared for. It may be kept for many months or even years as a keepsake of someone's love to be looked back on and treasured - you don't get that with a text.
Electronic mail definitely has its place in modern life but when it comes to personal interactions it can feel sterile and a bit of a cop out, a bit last minute, a bit as though the recipient is not worth a real card or that the sender can not be bothered. Whilst an electronic message is better than nothing, I for one hope that cards are never replaced by electronic messages.